After being told that I was “a fool” for choosing to become an Anglican minister, I inquired of my accuser, what he thought of when he thought of God. His answer was fairly typical, a man with a long white beard, sitting on a throne, surrounded by singing angels and clouds, looking down upon his creation in judgement.
I assured him that those were not the imaged in my head when I thought of God and that he should expand his thinking about our Creator. “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:31-35) A mother hen is a great and powerful image for the care God has for us. It is undoubtedly a feminine image too. By the way, it does not stand alone either: God is depicted as a mother eagle (Deuteronomy 32:10-11), a mother bear (Hosea 13:8), a mother giving birth (Isaiah 42:14) and breast-feeding her child (Isaiah 49:15).
I wonder if we do ourselves a disservice by limiting our best known images of God to masculine ones. No image or metaphor or simile or word will be able to capture the fullness, wonder and awe that is the Divine Creator. God is simply too big to be fully understood by the feeble human mind. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to comprehend God. Our attempt at understanding might lead to an experience of God and an experience doesn’t need an explanation. It just is. God just is. If we are open to lots of images, metaphors, similes and words for God we may open ourselves up to more opportunities for the experience of God. This experience will lead to a better understanding of how we can participate in God’s mission in the world.